Angie's List Tips for DIY projects | Angies List, Angie's List

Many homeowners are trying to save money by doing home repairs themselves. Often, they end up with disastrous – and more expensive – results.

An Angie’s List member poll found 83 percent of respondents go the do-it-yourself route because they want to save money. However, one in five who attempted a DIY project themselves still had to call in a pro to finish the job, and in many cases, undo the damage they had done.

3 questions to ask before tackling any DIY project:

  1. What experience (if any) do I have? Just because you’re not afraid to take on a project – doesn’t mean you should. Be realistic about your skills. Not having the expertise could lead to additional costs and work. Also, you might find it difficult to find a contractor who will fix your snafu.
  2. Do I have the time? Many home improvement projects take weeks rather than days. Measure the inconvenience against the cost of hiring a contractor.
  3. Do I have the right tools? Consider what special tools you’ll need for your project. If you have to go out and buy a power saw, but don’t plan to use it again in the future, it probably won’t be a very good investment.

If you decide DIY isn't in your best interests, use these 3 tips to find a contractor

  1. Call at least three contractors: Check consumer reviews and ratings on Angie’s List before hiring anyone. Be cautious of contractors who give you a post office box with no street address, or use only an answering service. Related: Beware post-storm contractor scams
  2. Communicate your ideas: Explain what home repairs you want done. Even rough ideas on paper are better than nothing at all. It will give a potential contractor a better sense of what your expectations are and what you are hoping to accomplish.
  3. Get estimates: Once you’ve described your project, take the time to get at least three estimates for your job. And get it in writing – documentation is often the best ammunition you have if things go wrong.

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Be realistic about DIY ventures. If you don't have the proper knowledge or tools, consider calling a pro to help. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Mitchell)
Be realistic about DIY ventures. If you don't have the proper knowledge or tools, consider calling a pro to help. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Mitchell)

Experts caution homeowners to be realistic and thoroughly evaluate DIY projects before tackling them on their own.


Here's a comment from professional renovators. Most people have no idea what they want, let alone put it in writing. They expect us to be mindreaders. And, when we DO read their mind (?), we present a very detailed estimate. Which many of these brain-dead jerks take as "Scope of Work," pass it on to multiple "contractors", and we have just spent hours of our time so someone can have a free written "Scope of Work." There are many dishonest customers out there who only want to get over on you, pick your brain and experience, then do the above. Result? A less quality or inferior job...but the client obviously doesn't care, since they did what they did in the first place. And when we quote--being registered with the state (PA) as required by law; paying quarterly taxes; paying health insurance; paying business insurance; paying our bills and our mortgage, not working out of our truck...of course, we can't compete with people working for $20/day. The old adage is true: you get what you pay for. And if you pay for a crappy job, it will have to be re-done shortly, and you won't be happy. The $ amount is only one parameter of a contract, ongoing relationship, and repeat business. Which is what we focus on @ Renovations by Persing in Macungie, PA. Sincerely, Arti and Janet Persing/ Owners

Yes, most people need help to identify the scope because it is dependent on available funds, time to do it, ROI, etc. So customers ask. Once we have that "scope" we will want multiple estimates of time and money, etc. However, I doubt I would choose a firm who calls their potential but lost customers "brain dead jerks".

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